In this photo provided by Google, Bechtel workers prepare to lay fiberoptic cables for Google’s high-speed Internet service. Courtesy of Google
In this photo provided by Google, Bechtel workers prepare to lay fiberoptic cables for Google’s high-speed Internet service. Courtesy of Google

Business

Google starts construction on Charlotte ‘Fiber’ network

By Sam Hardiman

shardiman@charlotteobserver.com

June 23, 2015 04:45 PM

UPDATED June 24, 2015 10:08 AM

Google said Tuesday it has begun construction in Charlotte for Google Fiber, the high-speed Internet and television service it plans to deploy.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company plans to lay approximately 3,200 miles of cable in Charlotte – about the distance to Iceland. The cable will encircle the city and then be dispatched to different parts of the city from 19 different “service huts” it plans to build.

Work on scouting existing utilities began last week. Google will lease 15 of 19 service hut locations.

Google’s Jess George, a community impact manager, said construction was taking place in northern parts of the city and county, including Highland Creek.

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Charlotte is among five areas in the second wave of the Google Fiber rollout, which includes Raleigh and Durham. The first wave comprised Provo, Utah, Kansas City, Mo. and Austin, Texas.

George told the Observer there isn’t a hard timeline for construction and completion available yet, adding that construction depends on number of factors including whether the work in a particular area is done above- or underground and the makeup of the soil.

The company says the service will provide Internet speeds at up to 100 times normal broadband.

Google hasn’t announced prices for Charlotte. Consumers in the first wave of cities have three different choices with Google Fiber. In Kansas City and Austin, for example, users can receive gigabit Internet and television service for $130 a month, gigabit Internet service for $70 a month and basic Internet for a one-time $300 construction fee that can be spread over a year.

Google turned to Bechtel Corporation, a century-old global contracting firm, for installation. Bechtel is based in San Francisco and works on projects ranging from nuclear containment to telecommunications. It worked on the Hoover Dam and on containing radiation from the Chernobyl reactor disaster in Ukraine.

Google said Bechtel will put out door hangers in neighborhoods surrounding construction zones and the company will work quickly to minimize inconvenience.

Many households in the U.S. receive TV and Internet service from coaxial cable, which is good for small amounts of data such as a phone call or a few television channels, but, according to Google, not the data demands of the modern consumer.

Google Fiber’s rollout comes amid stepped-up competition from rivals in Charlotte:

▪ AT&T rolled out its one-gigabit Internet service last week. The new service, called U-verse with AT&T GigaPower, offers speeds up to 100 times faster than typical Internet services, the company said. It allows a user to download 25 songs in one second. Not all neighborhoods are eligible yet for the service.

▪ Time Warner Cable said it plans to release its high-speed service later this summer. Time Warner customers will receive speeds up to six times faster than their current level of service, up to 300 megabits per second, at no extra charge.